How to Eat Healthy at Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving Dinner @ Boston Oak Room

Reality Check: For most of us, this won’t be happening. Those trying to watch their weight or just not overdo it will find that Thanksgiving Dinner is a huge challenge.

Here are some helpful suggestions:

–Stick to healthier appetizers like raw vegetables. If we fill up on those, we are less likely to eat the richer stuff that are part of the entree.

–Drink lots of water; water makes us feel more full and can prevent us from eating too much. Plus, it’s always good to hydrate.

–Fill your plate once…and then don’t refill it. Pile it as much as you want the first time, but then stop. A good way to do this is to remove your plate from the table.

–Eat until you feel about 3/4 full. Our sense of being full is slower than our mouths; if we stop eating at 3/4 (or earlier) we can avoid the overstuffed feeling.

–Choose one or two desserts and then ask for a small serving. Don’t deprive yourself of pumpkin pie or other treats; rather, enjoy with a small portion.

–Don’t fall for the idea of going to the gym and working out like crazy so that you can eat more at dinner. Unless we are running a marathon on Thursday morning (and some of us might be) we’ll never burn enough calories to make up for what we’re about to eat. More likely, we will be hungry from our workout and eat even more. Avoid this trap!

Finally, if all else fails:

If you get on the scale on Friday and the news isn’t good, be kind to yourself and realize that Thanksiving day is one-of-a kind. Don’t get down on yourself for “being weak.” Accept that we all have days when we eat healthier than others. Commit to getting back on the program.

It probably won’t take too long to undo the damage…before Hanukkah and Christmas come in four weeks! Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Recipe Wednesday: Healthy Hamantaschen? You bet!

I don’t know about you, but I am powerless against Hamantaschen. It may be my Hungarian Jewish background, but I cannot resist pastries and Hamantaschen are worthy rivals.

Imagine my pleasure/surprise when I found a recipe for Healthy Hamantaschen! I wouldn’t post it here unless I baked it up and tried it myself. I will tell you that the first bite tasted a little out of the ordinary, but several others have said they are actually good. I’ve already eaten more than I care to admit.

The recipe comes from Here is the link:

What makes these healthy are the following substitutions: coconut oil for butter, whole wheat flour for regular all-purpose flour, and honey for sugar.

I prepared them with almond extract (you can also use vanilla extract too), and you can taste it–fine with me! I used whole wheat pastry flour instead of regular whole wheat flour which made the dough a little crumblier than it should have been (due to lower gluten content). I also used a regular jar of store-bought raspberry jam. You can use whatever type of filling you’d like. My step-daughter suggested Nutella!

I will definitely be making this recipe next week for Mishloach Manot. I know they’re still not totally healthy, but it I’ll feel a little less guilty as I celebrate Purim.

Recipe Wednesday

I’ve been making a special effort lately to try recipes that are healthy. I’ve hit a couple of clunkers, but mostly have found some delicious meals and treats that I don’t need to feel too guilty about.

This recipe comes from the website I don’t know if I’d use the word “joyful” to describe this particular recipe for Skinny Banana Nut Muffins, but they certainly made me happy! My only substitutions were that I used whole wheat pastry flour (instead of whole wheat all-purpose), and I used pure maple syrup (NOT the fake stuff) instead of honey. They were great!

If you’ve got a recipe that is healthy and almost tastes too good to be healthy, please share it with me. Each Wednesday, I will bring you a recipe that I myself have made and tasted.

Next week, healthy Hamantaschen…?

My Fitness Philosophy

Anyone who has ever flown on an airplane knows the schtick: “In the unlikely event of a sudden cabin depressurization, masks will fall from the compartments above your head. Place the mask over your nose and mouth and breathe normally; although the bag may not inflate, the oxygen is flowing. If you are seated with someone who needs assistance, place your mask on first, then assist others around you.”

Of course, the reason we are told to do this is that if we are so busy helping others we may actually deprive ourselves of the oxygen we need and not only be unable to help others, but harm ourselves as well.

In Judaism, we are accustomed to helping others. Acts of Gemilut Chesed (lovingkindness) are one of the pillars on which the world stands. The most often repeated mitzvah (commandment) in the Torah is to be kind to the stranger since we were once strangers in the Land of Egypt. We are used to giving ourselves. The problem arises when we are so focused on the other that we are unable to help ourselves; we get into a spiral in which we can run ourselves down so much that we cannot help others.

Some people feel that going to the gym or buying exercise equipment is a luxury. It is not. It is an investment. It is an investment in our own future and our ability to be of help to others. We do no one any good if we are sick, or weak, or immobilized.

Those of us who own cars know that we must maintain them. We must change the oil and filters. Check the fluids. Fill up the tank or plug in the battery. We must wash it. We cannot simply drive and drive and drive the car into the ground and expect to get where we want to be. The same is true with our bodies.

Taking care of yourself, working out, eating healthy or getting a massage are not selfish acts. These are acts of self-care that ultimately allow us to care for others. Believe that you deserve to be healthy and fit. Believe that you deserve to care for yourself just as you care for others. Believe that the stronger you are the more likely you are to do what it is that God has planned for you in this world.

Help others put on their masks for sure…but make sure yours is on first!